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At National Journal: Prioritize Based on Need but Universal Pre-K Should be the Goal

Published:  January 9, 2013

This week’s question on the National Journal Education Expert’s blog asks if policymakers should focus on providing pre-K for every child.

In my response, I discuss three reasons why universal pre-K should be the goal. Here’s one:

While children from poor and low-income families experience the most significant learning gains when attending high-quality pre-K programs, they aren’t the only ones who get a leg up. Studies of Oklahoma’s universal pre-K program as well as other state pre-K programs have found that children from middle-class families also made learning gains as a result of their participation. Additionally, pre-K programs can help to avert special education placement, grade retention and dropping out of school. Even though middle-income children are less likely to be held back, they still make up a large proportion of students who are retained or who do not graduate from high school.

I also point out, though, that “with limited dollars, states should focus on improving the quality of programs to make sure that the children who need pre-K the most are learning and developing at high levels from effective, well-prepared teachers.”

Read my full response here.

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